How do I know if a child is being abused? Just because a child has bruises does not mean that he or she is abused. The most important thing is to look for is a pattern of abuse. Here are some of the signs to look for:

Physical Abuse

  • Injuries to eyes or both sides of the head or body. Accidental injuries typically only affect one side of the body.
  • Frequently appearing injuries such as bruises, cuts or burns. These may appear as grab marks, human bite marks, cigarette burns
  • Destructive, aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • Fear of going home

Sexual Abuse

  • Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Injury to genital area
  • Difficulty or pain when sitting or walking
  • Sexually suggestive, inappropriate behavior or verbalization
  • Sexual victimization of other children.


  • Obvious malnourishment, listlessness or fatigue
  • Stealing or begging for food
  • Poor personal hygiene, torn and/or dirty clothes
  • Need for glasses, dental care or other medical attention
  • Frequent absence from or tardiness to school
  • Child inappropriately left unattended or without supervision